Today gun salutes marked the death of Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, took place across the UK and at sea.
Saluting batteries fired 41 rounds, one every minute in cities including London, Edinburgh, Cardiff and Belfast. The Royal Artillery Barracks, Woolwich was the home of the Royal Artillery from 1776 until 2007. The artillery fired field guns dating from the First World War – the same guns fired for Philip’s wedding to the Queen in 1947 and at her Coronation six years later in 1953.
The impressive Georgian façade of the Woolwich Barracks is said to be the longest of its kind in Europe at 1,000 ft long. It used to house as many as 4,000 people, although now the modern facilities behind the frontage accommodate 700 members of the Royal Regiment of the Artillery.
The complex was laid out on a grid with internal roads, like a military Roman town, think Roman London. To the south, there were two soldiers’ barracks, both with flanking officers’ quarters. Behind the links there was a military chapel, a regimental library and reading room above the guard room and prison cells, an officers’ mess, and battalion and senior commanders’ offices. Cooking houses and privies were ranged to the rear. There was another rank of ancillary buildings that included the barrack-master’s house, offices, canteen and engineers’ yard.
A school was built in 1808–10. Around 1,000 to 1,200 soldiers were married, some permitted to bring in their families, others forced to pay ‘exorbitant rents for miserable lodgings’. The proximity of civilian life in Woolwich, ‘alehouses and houses of resort’ brought ‘serious inconveniences’ to the management of the barracks, as Macleod and Hayter complained in 1806. Altogether, 3,210 men and c. 1,200 horses were housed at Woolwich barracks during the 1820s.
Hazel Baker is an award-winning London Tour Guide and qualified CIGA guide who delivers guided walks and private tours in London. View all of Hazel’s walking tours.